First my thanks go out this week to Internet reader Paul Brogan of Concord, N.H. for helping clear the cobwebs from my tired old brain and setting me straight on some movie history. I mentioned a Doris Day movie in which a baby was delivered and they were frantically scrambling to find a newspaper to wrap it in. He tells me the movie is the 1963 "The Thrill of It All" and that Day is not pregnant but Arlene Francis is and her husband is character actor Edward Andrews and their doctor is James Garner. Thanks again, Mr. Brogan and to all of you Internet readers, keep reading.
On Saturday, Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden called the team from the practice field and they stood sweaty, dirty and exhausted before him in the lockerroom, glad to be in out of the boiling Tallahassee sun.
"Gentlemen," Bowden drawled. "I guess you heard the NCAA is making us get rid of the Seminole mascot 'cause it offends some people." The players groaned in unison, as all of the Seminole chops, the white horse, the warrior cheering up the crowd flashed before their eyes.
"It's a real mess, this political correctness but if we don't do it we stand to lose plenty of money and you know that's what college football is all about," Bowden said. "Bottom line is we've got to find something that is politically correct. It's caused confusion all across the nation. My secretary has been on the phone all morning with other coaches assessing things. I think we are going to have to pick out an animal and obviously the Gator's already taken. Are there any other animals in Florida. I think the Yankees paved all over them making those condos."
At that moment his secretary burst into the locker room drawling as she entered, "Hope you're decent" and seemed a little disappointed when she saw they weren't. "Just got all the phone with your son, Tommy, and we're in trouble. He says the NCAA just called and the Tiger is out at Clemson. Something about the SPCA complaining. Tommy, who ain't as smart as you coach, said he was shocked. He thought SPCA was the Society for the Promotion of Clemson Athletics. Anyway, he said two blue-haired ladies in Seneca said the Tiger fight song was encouraging people to really "Hold that Tiger" and it was cruel to animals.
"Yowee," Bowden said. "That knocks out Auburn, LSU and Clemson in one swoop. No animals at all? What about the screaming war eagles?" His secretary looked down her notepad. "Out,' she said loudly.
"Insects," Bowden grasped. "Are they still in? Those pesky Yellow Jackets been left alone?" His secretary shook her head slowly but deliberately. "Just got off the phone with Coach Chan Gailey. Out. Seems three beekeepers in Marietta said it would encourage people to harm the little critters while they are flying around the campus among all the skyscrapers in midtown."
Bowden, a religious man who believed God allows you to cuss if it involved football, stifled his urge to let out a big one and resignedly said, "OK, it's official. We're the Florida State Xs." His secretary scribbled it down and bolted from the locker room. Bowden, proud of himself, then switched to a few football plays when a few minutes later his secretary bounded back into the locker room.
"No go," she said. "The NCAA made a few calls and found two Muslims in Ocala who said it was designed to besmirch the name of Malcolm X." Bowden looked surprised, "There are Muslims in Ocala?"
His secretary went on. "And Coach Karl Dorrell at UCLA just called and said they have been told by the brain trust at the NCAA that the Bruins are probably out. But since they don't know what a Bruin is, they are having a hard time finding someone offended. Same is true of the Virgina Tech Hokies. You know all the officials combined at the NCAA main office have a combined IQ of 84 and they said they have been trying to Goggle those mascots and nothing has come up." Bowden shook his head. "I was born before dirt, much less computers, and I know it's Google, not Goggle."
Team players started to laugh but stifled it, seeing about 35 laps in their future if they did.
Switch for a minute from the FSU locker room to the News Daily newsroom in Jonesboro where I am about to comment on the whole mascot fiasco.
There probably has never been a more inhumane treatment of one group of people than the treatment of the native Americans. From genocide to stealing their land to broken promises to herding them like cattle onto some of America's least fertile desolate land, it is a trail of tears for sure.
My problem with politically correctness is that it is a Band-Aid for the conscience and no real fix. They change the name and then ignore the extreme poverty on the reservations, the substance abuse, the continued ignoring of their needs from Washington, the broken promises and lack of vision coming from politicians. The bottom line is I don't like politically correctness. It is silly and not even fool-proof.
I was at a paper and we invited the executive editor of the sister Asheville, N.C. Citizen to come down and knowing he was Native American from Oklahoma we were careful to use the phrase "Native American." After the third time, he said flatly, "I prefer American Indian." Yikes no good deed goes unpunished.
We had the consternation of "chairperson," a stupid image of a centaur, half person, half chair presiding over a meeting. We went to Ms. and some elderly Southern women said, "I am married and proud of it and I am no Ms. I am a Mrs." I instinctively hold the door open for whomever is behind me and found it was not always OK, some offended that I thought their muscles were not strong enough to open their own door.
Don't get me wrong. I see the nation as my own house. I would not invite a guest into my house and knowingly insult that person or make them feel uncomfortable. And I understand derogatory stereotypes. I guess I have the problem that the mascots are not looked down upon but are celebrated at these colleges. And like I said if they solve the great issues facing America's native Americans then maybe they might have a point in fixing the mascots.
But if you cook a stew or soup that is intended to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one because it is too bland. I have given up trying to find a way to live life and not offend someone. People will find ways to be offended. And are we to operate on the perceptions of everyone, tiptoeing through life trying to offend no one?
I think of one little story and then I will get off my soapbox. A psychologist is giving a man the ink block test. He shows the first one, a circle, and the man responds, "That's two cows having sex." The second one is two straight lines and the man responds, " Two naked people up to no good." and the third a square box and the man says, "Two couples having sex in the same room." The psychologist shakes his head and says, "Man, do you have a dirty mind." The man responds quickly, "Well it's you drawing all the dirty pictures."
Bob Paslay is editor of the News Daily and Daily Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (770) 478-5753.